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Vessel Archive 1881-1900

Paddle Steamer Helena
PS Princess Helenapaddle steamer
Registered No:86341
Builders:Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Entered service:1883
Tonnage:246 tonnes gross
Dimensions:175'4" x 20'2"
Machinery:90hp compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1950 (scrapped 1952)

Similar to the Princess Beatrice, Helena was launched 22 July 1883 and became proof of the longevity of the iron hull, remaining in service until 1952. Reboilered in 1893, fitted with electric light during the 1908/9 refit, she continued to operate excursions in the early 1900's. Although trialed by the Navy as a patrol vessel in the English Channel during WWI, she was rejected and returned to Red Funnel. The steamer did assist in May 1940 with the recovery of troops from Dunkirk in WWII, but was involved in a minor collision with the GWR steamer St. Helier off Dover. In 1945 her mast was removed to allow better access for vehicles on the foredeck, and in 1949 the elderly lady was placed on cargo duties where she remained as relief boat until 1952. That summer she was sold for scrap, but a high tide and gale caused her paddle arch to override the quay wall as she waited in line for the cutters torch. As the tide ebbed she heeled over and sank but was later pumped out, raised and scrapped as planned.

Paddle Steamer Her Majesty
PS Her Majestypaddle steamer
Registered No:90419
Builders:Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Entered service:1888
Tonnage:352 tonnes gross
Dimensions:185'2" x 20'1"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1940 (scrapped 1940)

Similar to Princess Beatrice and Princess Helena. Reboilered in 1901, she was fitted with electric light and new steam steering gear during the 1908/9 refit. Military service commenced in April 1917, acting as minesweeper with Princess Beatrice in the English Channel and Irish Sea. She returned to Red Funnel in 1919, was reconditioned and continued on the passage service until September 1927. Thereafter she was converted from a passenger steamer that carried cars on the open foredeck's to a car carrier. The mast was set back, the companion way from foredeck to promenade deck was removed, as was the aft saloon. In this form Her Majesty could carry 18 cars. She was used on both relief and scheduled services and also acted as a car and mail tender to liners like the Normandie, Nieuw Amsterdam, Bremen and Europa.

Paddle Steamer Princess of Wales
PS Princess of Walespaddle steamer
Registered No:n/a
Builders:Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow
Entered service:n/a
Tonnage:320 tonnes gross
Dimensions:215'6" x 21'1"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1888 (lost at sea June 1888)

The Princess of Wales, a two-funnelled ship with steam steering gear and a capacity to carry 600 passengers was famous for being the shortest serving ship in the Company's history! At 1pm on Saturday 16 June 1888 whilst on speed trials over the Skelmorlie measured mile on the Firth of Clyde, the brand new steamer was run down, cut in two and sank in a collision with former Castle Line steamer Balmoral Castle. A party from the Company and 50-60 others were rescued but a number of painters and joiners went down with the stern, all were plucked from the water with the exception of 3 painters who sadly lost their lives. The forepart of the Princess remained afloat and was taken in tow but it later sank in deep water. Efforts to raise her were not successful and she was declared a 'total loss'. The Board of Enquiry found both pilots guilty of negligence but it was later reported that she never attained her contract speed and it was questionable whether she would have been accepted. Her replacement, Solent Queen would incorporate several improvements.

Paddle Steamer Bangor Castle
PS Bangor Castlepaddle steamer
Registered No:not known
Builders:T Wingate & Co. Glasgow
Tonnage:250 tonnes gross
Dimensions:191'0" x 22'0"
Machinery:2cyl simple diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1888 (scrapped 1899)

A two funnel ship with its bridge set between them and a pair of enormous paddle wheels, she was chartered for 3 months during the summer of 1988 from the Belfast, Bangor & Larne Steamboat Company to replace the Princess of Wales. Starting her career on the Thames, she was transferred to the Belfast to Bangor service in 1873. Her first sailing with Red Funnel was 26th June 1888 and she ended her stint with the Company by breaking down on her way to Ryde to pick up passengers for a round the Island excursion. She was rescued and towed to Cowes by Princess Beatrice.

Paddle Steamer Solent Queen
PS Solent Queen (I)paddle steamer
Registered No:97201
Builders:Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Entered service:1889
Tonnage:324 tonnes gross
Dimensions:215'6" x 21'1"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1948 (scrapped 1948)

This iron-hulled ship was built as a permanent replacement to the ill-fated Princess of Wales and incorporated a number of improvements. Launched on 3 April 1889 she attained a mean speed of 14.5 knots in the Gareloch on the 29 April. In her early days she was used mainly for excursion work and remained in the Company's service during the Great War. From 1921-1931 she spent the summer based in Bournemouth serving Swanage. On 27 April 1893 whilst berthed at the Royal Pier, Southampton she was gutted by a major fire but happily she was renovated and returned to service on the 20 July. A new boiler was fitted in 1902 and electric light in 1907. On the 3 December 1906 she was in collision with the ferry steamer Frances in Portsmouth Harbour but was again repaired. Like Princess Helena, she set off for Dunkirk but ran into difficulties and returned without troops. In August 1948, boiler failure led to her withdrawal and she was sold for scrap to TW Ward Ltd of Grays, Essex - arriving under tow on 31 October 1948. Her binnacle is in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

Paddle Steamer Prince of Wales
PS Prince of Walespaddle steamer
Registered No:98850
Builders:Southampton Naval Works, Woolston
Entered service:1891
Tonnage:280 tonnes gross
Dimensions:185'5" x 22'2"
Machinery:paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn:1937 (scrapped 1938)

Built at Woolston unlike her Clyde built sisters, Prince of Wales cost £11,255 in 1891 and was the Company's first steel-hulled steamer. Launched on 7 July 1891, she was distinguishable by her tall single funnel, short waste steam pipe, extremely small paddle boxes, bow rudder and a hog-backed keel which was intended to counterbalance the tendency of paddle steamers to sag amidships under the weight and vibration of the engine and paddle gear. The thinking was that the keel would be depressed to neutralise the hogging but unfortunately she did not sag and carried this peculiarity throughout her life. At the Company's AGM in 1891 it was stated that various modifications had been made to enable her to attain 15 knots. During the winter of 1893/4 new paddle wheels with wooden floats were fitted to replace the steel originals that were the cause of excessive vibration - satisfactory speeds were recorded in trials over the Stokes Bay measured mile. Always prone to mishaps the Prince of Wales had a colourful life. Incidents include a collision with Clarence Pier on 23 March 1896, fouling a buoy in Cowes fairway on 3 June 1901 and colliding with a submarine in Portsmouth Harbour on 16 December 1903 in which she came close to being lost. In December 1927, when backing into Cowes fairway she collided with the yacht Cuffrida and the two vessels became locked together - it took Lord Elgin and two tugs to separate them! She was in the wars on 2 July 1934 after a minor collision with Princess Helena off Cowes and in the news again on 3 June 1935 after sinking the yacht Robin that was on its maiden voyage. After 36 years service the Prince of Wales was withdrawn and towed to Llanelli in March 1938 for breaking up.

Paddle Steamer Duchess of Cornwall
PS Duchess of Yorke / Duchess of Cornwallpaddle steamer
Registered No:106903
Builders:Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
In service:1896-1916 / 1921-1949
Tonnage:302 tonnes gross
Dimensions:185'5" x 22'1"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1949 (scrapped 1949)

Ordered as a replacement for Her Majesty (which later returned to service), the Duchess of York was launched on 28 May 1896 and averaged 14.865 knots (and a maximum of 16.143 knots) in trials. Similar to the Prince of Wales, minus her peculiarities she had slightly bigger paddle boxes and a flatter funnel. In May 1916 she was sold to the Admiralty for minesweeping duties in the Mediterranean and Aegean. The Company repurchased her in 1921 and she was refitted and returned to service. In 1928 her name was relinguished to Canadian Pacific Steamships who were buiding their 4 'Duchess' class liners, so the Duchess of York became the Duchess of Cornwall. She was again called up for war service in September 1939 only to be returned the following month because she was unsuitable. During the Dunkirk period in 1940 she headed east along the coast to Dover but did not cross due to fuel problems. Later in 1940 she was sunk at the Royal Pier in Southampton during an air raid but was raised and returned to service. In July 1945 she performed the first post-war excursion to Ryde, the last one had been at Whitsun 1940. Her last passenger sailing was 16 October 1946 when she accompanied SS Queen Elizabeth down Southampton Water on her first commercial voyage to New York. She was retained as a cargo steamer until being sent to Pollock, Brown's yard in Northam on 19 December 1949 for breaking up.

Paddle Steamer Lorna Doone
PS Lorna Doonepaddle steamer
Registered No:98413
Builders:Napier Shanks & Bell, Yoker
Tonnage:427 tonnes gross
Dimensions:220'5" x 26'0"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1947 (scrapped 1948)

Lorna Doone was acquired from John Gunn of Cardiff as a stopgap until a new steamer arrived to compete against the superior paddler Cambria owned by Messrs P. & A. Campbell. She arrived in Southampton on 1 April 1898 and on trials averaged 16.3 knots. She had one funnel initially behind an open bridge, an open foredeck with a short fore saloon with side alleyways, a full length and full width promenade deck and a full width saloon aft. The dining saloon was on the main deck; to starboard was a bar named 'Half Way Doone' and opposite on the port side a lounge bar called the 'Retreat'. She was granted a 'Steam 3' certificate for 706 persons and 818 on a 'Steam 4' and was used primarily for excursion work. A feed pump problem between Bournemouth and Weymouth on 12 September 1898 led to the hoisting of distress signals. A foresail was used to stop her drifting ashore until repairs were affected. In the winter of 1898/9 she was reboilered by J. Samuel White & Co. of Cowes and fitted with improved water-tube boilers which required two funnels. Her machinery was removed, rebuilt and a high-pressure cylinder added before refitting in the hull. There were high hopes for increased speed and less soot on the deck but this did not materialise and she was reboilered again with a locomotive type boiler, reverting to one funnel. Significant damage caused by rough weather in 1906 led to the promenade deck being carried forward to the bows and topside plating fitted. Between August 1914 and December 1919 she was used by the Navy as a minesweeper during WWI and requisitioned again in December 1939 serving as a minesweeper and anti-aircraft ship in WWII until she was released to the Company in January 1947. Her condition was so poor that repair was out of the question and so one of the Company's best loved and most successful steamers was moved, with some regret on 14 October 1948 to Pollock, Brown's yard at Northam for breaking up.

Company seal
PS Victoriapaddle steamer
Registered No:82335
Builders:Aitken & Maxwell, Glasgow
Tonnage:366 tonnes gross
Dimensions:191'9" x 25'1"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1900 (scrapped 1900)

Built for the combined fleet of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway and the London & South Western Railway companies, she was used on the Portsmouth to Ryde service before being purchased by the Company. Victoria was a stop-gap until PS Balmoral I arrived to counter the challenge posed by P. & A. Campbell's magnificent PS Cambria and PS Glen Rosa which had been placed at the Southampton station in 1897. Victoria was a double ended design with two funnels placed fore and aft and central paddle boxes.

Paddle Steamer Balmoral
PS Balmoral (I)paddle steamer
Registered No:113300
Builders:S. McKnight & Co. Ayr
Entered service:1900
Tonnage:473 tonnes gross
Dimensions:236'0" x 27'1"
Machinery:compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn:1947 (scrapped 1949)

Ordered from Hutson & Son in Glasgow (the steel hull was sub-contracted to S. McKnight & Co. of Ayr), she was promised for the 1900 season. Balmoral was fitted with compound diagonal surface condensing engines with a stroke of 66in. and cylinder diameters of 36½in. (high-pressure) and 66½in. (low-pressure).  Haystack water-tube boilers of 110p.s.i were installed and the ship had five watertight compartments. Her accommodation was similar to Lorna Doone but she had a full-length promenade deck. After successful trials, attaining 19.51 knots, she was given a 'Steam 2' certificate to carry 1,033 passengers and arrived in Southampton on 14 July 1900. On her first trip on the 17 July with Directors, shareholders and invited guests aboard she encountered her rival PS Cambria, winning the first of many friendly tussles. In reality there was little to choose between them in terms of speed. Balmoral was an expensive ship to operate and her season was short but arduous, operating the long day excursions to Eastbourne, Brighton, Weymouth, Torquay and cross-Channel trips to Cherbourg and even Boulogne on occasions. She became very well known but bad weather and fog sometimes played havoc with her schedules and occasionally caused minor damage. She was reboilered in the winter of 1907/8 and requisitioned for war service in February 1915, being used mainly for troop transport before conversion into a minesweeper. She returned to the Company in February 1919, was refurbished and reboilered, resuming her duties in 1921. In WWII she was fitted out as an auxiliary anti-aircraft ship and served in the Thames area before being transferred to the Clyde to provide accommodation for shipyard workers. In January 1947 she was towed back to Southampton and sat on the mud at Northam in a very sorry condition. She was beyond economic repair and on 31 December 1948 she was taken to Pollock, Brown's yard and broken up the following year.

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